A Weekend at ‘Boot Camp’

That’s me just home from two days with the Moray Women’s Aid Tartan trekkers. Staying at the RAF Highland Activities self catering facility Feshiebridge Lodge. I am calling it my boot camp. My company? Eight of my nine Sahara companions. The aim? To walk two days back to back. Oh – and just as important – some serious bonding time.

Friday night, rucksacks packed, sleeping bags at the ready, several vehicles packed with food, drink and heaps of enthusiasm headed for the facility situated between Aviemore and Kincraig. It had all the makings of a great weekend.
Feshie group
With a number of walk options on the table we decided to aim for a “big” one Saturday. Route 1 was estimated at around 14-15 miles, though with one of my ancient maps as a guide we were guessing a little. For most of the group this would be a personal best so Sunday’s walk would be a scalable “out and back” and a distance chosen to suit how the group felt.

Saturday morning dawned dry and bright with a vague forecast of sunshine. The group set off with what would be become the starter team selfie before settling into a rhythm and pattern. With a group of nine you can already begin to see how 20+ folk in the desert might walk. Despite the links between all the ladies, there is still so much you learn about each other by simply chatting as you go. The pack shuffled regularly as some would slow up, take a “pit stop”, catch up and rejoin a new companion. And laugh? Well after this weekend my jaws literally ache. The topics, the songs, the one liners.

Moray Women’s Aid Tartan Trekkers

So let me introduce you to the trekkers. Claire, Rosie, Pauline, Jennifer, Kirsty, Susan, Elaine, and finally the Elle Jo, service centre manager at MWA’s Marleon House. Most have links directly or indirectly to Moray Women’s Aid and the entire support mechanism to women and children dealing with domestic abuse. A tenth woman makes up the team but was absent this weekend but together with Susan are fellow Moray Business Women colleagues and it is through MBW I am even heading to the Sahara at all.

Together they are the MWA Tartan Trekkers. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their sense of humour a tonic – and they are working extremely hard fundraising, supporting each other through training and a whole lot more. A couple of nights away together and a couple of days walking and you already begin to see the various personalities.

In the end we notched up a fantastic, 16.2 (ish) miles. The circuit took in the newest section of the Speyside Way, much needed energy lunch in Aviemore, a long road walk back to the “camp” and the extra treat of afternoon tea at Inshriach Nursery before the final three mile leg.

Sunday was a walk from Grantown on Spey up the Dava Way, curtailed at just about 6.5 miles with some of us needing to get back to eat, see family and home. With such a varied group balancing training, fundraising and family/work in itself can be quite a challenge. Indeed that is one of the reasons I began my “piggy back” Million Boot Steps Challenge – to help find more space and time in a busy work life – for training and for me! To engage with new people and re-engage with old friends through walking. That’s something you cannot measure in steps, but its value for mental health and general well being is immense. But rest assured the Dava Way is now on our “must do” list for another day.  Our ‘kind of’ distance aim for the weekend was to do 10-12 miles each day – our final total was around the 22 mile mark allowing for some stride length variation of course 🙂

With 51818 steps bagged in the last two days that takes me well past my first half a million. The “moment” itself was touchingly captured and celebrated by a group who kept checking “are you there yet” and then stopped for an almighty cheer and yet another photo. A milestone well worth marking of course, but more important is the feeling I will take away from this weekend.

Thank you ladies for making this weekend “magic”.

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